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How Decommissioning Helped Otis Right-Size Their Office Space to Meet Employee Needs

The pandemic initially forced non-essential employees to work from home. Eventually, it showed us that remote working could be done successfully and defined a new work-life for employees.

For companies, this presents several challenges, one being empty office space.

Pre-COVID, the Otis headquarters in Farmington, CT, was bustling with 600 employees. The company’s three floors, constituting roughly 100,000 square feet of office space, suddenly were nearly empty. In addition to paying a lease on the now-empty office, Otis was looking at paying maintenance and mechanical costs.

Uncertainty about what the workplace looked like in the long term was also a challenge. Otis concluded that the work-from-home trend was here to stay. They needed to work towards right-sizing their office space to meet employee needs. But what exactly would that look like?

Several solutions were explored. Sub-leasing part of the headquarters was quickly ruled out because of security concerns. Consolidating other nearby offices was also considered, but this would involve an investment office space that Otis didn’t own.

Ultimately, the company decided to decommission two floors in the Farmington office and update one floor. Except for minor “furniture harvesting,” the ground floor and second floor were largely left alone. The doors were locked. HVAC, lighting, and plumbing were turned off.

The third floor was updated to support a hybrid workplace model with an emphasis on creating meeting spaces for in-person collaboration. Otis added eight meeting rooms of various sizes. They increased the number of workstations and reduced individual offices while keeping the total number of seats around 140. Four “railway booths” were added, as were “phone booths” and other private rooms. A work café was installed, with several open-meeting areas.

The entire floor was transformed into a gathering place that fosters a level of collaboration and interaction that is difficult to achieve in virtual meetings. Whether working independently or in small groups, the floor has also become a community space that allows employees to re-connect with one another.

Of course, closing two floors reduces utility costs significantly—by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually!

The new office is also very welcoming. It’s a desirable place to be, and the company hopes it will help with attracting new employees.

Otis is happy with their decision. Short term, the new office meets the current needs of employees. Carrying costs have been minimized. Long term, the company can expand its hybrid workplace using the latest best practices, designs, and innovations if needed.

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